Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Arraignment at Gitmo Today

Alleged "9/11 Mastermind" Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is being arraigned today at Guantanamo. The ACLU is on scene and will be reporting.

The ACLU has committed $15 million to a joint project with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to provide adequate representation to Mohammed and other Gitmo detainees facing unfair trials under the Military Commissions Act.

Trial by military commission permit convictions based on secret evidence, hearsay, and evidence derived from torture – including waterboarding, a technique the government admits was used on Mohammed. [More...]

Idaho attorneys David Nevin and Scott McKay will be joining Mohammed's defense and met with him this week.

“The prosecution of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will undoubtedly raise the issues of torture, hearsay and secret evidence,” said Nevin. “If the government’s evidence is as strong as it claims, you have to wonder why it lacks the confidence to prove its case in a real court with constitutional protections.”

“This case is a critical test of the deeply flawed military commission system,” said McKay. “These prosecutions must reflect core American principles of justice and fairness. We can’t just throw out our constitutional values and decide to adhere to the rule of law depending on who is being prosecuted and what the alleged crimes are. That subverts the entire notion of justice.”

The ACLU says:

“At every step of the way, these commissions have denigrated our country’s historic commitment to the principle of due process and compromised America’s reputation in the eyes of the world,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero, who is in Guantánamo for today’s arraignment of Mohammed and four other detainees. “The time has come to scrap this illegitimate system and make a fresh start by moving these cases to federal criminal courts or traditional military courts where constitutional guarantees still apply.”

The Pentagon now is rushing Mohammed to trial, after waiting six years to bring charges:

“The government has had over six years to build its case and is giving the defense just three short months to prepare for trial – all in an effort to steamroll the process to meet an arbitrary court date clearly designed to influence the elections,” added Romero. “This is a direct assault on the fundamental concepts of American justice and due process.”

Among those supporting the joint project are families of 9/11 victims.

“Like others who mourn family members killed on 9/11, I wish for justice and accountability for my son. But secretive proceedings tainted by the use of torture are outside the system of justice on which the honor of this nation depends,” said Patricia Perry, mother of NYPD Officer John William Perry.

“I lost someone I dearly loved on September 11, and have waited too long to see those responsible brought to justice. But these special military tribunals that are stained by politics and deny detainees the basic American principle of due process smack of revenge rather than justice, and mock our legal system and those we lost,” said Valerie Lucznikowski, who lost her nephew, Adam Arias, on 9/11.

< What Now? | Khalid Sheik Mohammed: Sings in Court, Welcomes Death Penalty >
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    these proceedings (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by cpinva on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 10:26:27 AM EST
    violate the basic constitutional precepts that supposedly set us apart from our enemies, they violate the basic tenets of the UCMJ and our obligations under the geneva conventions. i'm just sort of amazed that the JCS went along with this, knowing the potential ramifications for our men and women in uniform, throughout the world.

    the bush administration has managed to demonstrate a reverse midas touch: it has corrupted everything it's touched. the taint will live on, long after mr. bush and his cronies have left office.

    Indeed (none / 0) (#9)
    by eric on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 10:53:56 AM EST
    I don't know why they are even bothering with an "arraignment".  Gimme a break.  This guy has been tortured and locked up for how long?  And now they are going to try to impart some sense of legitimacy by doing an "arraignment"?

    I know that in some circles, it isn't (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by Anne on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 10:50:41 AM EST
    popular to say this, but I truly believe that the worst thing that happened to this country was not the attacks on 9/11, but what happened - in a deliberate and planned and organized way - to the government, the military, our system of justice and the Constitution as a result.

    I have no illusions that KSM is a paragon of virtue - but what we have done in his case, and in the case of so many others, is so antithetical to the principles that have guided us for so many years; if we feel we have the right to violate the principles and precepts of this country's controlling documents for foreign defendants, or on the basis that whoever's in charge thinks it's a good idea, we have opened the door to doing the same to all of us.  Ignoring and contravening the treaties and conventions that have bound us in humane treatment puts our own citizens at risk around the world.

    We've got to get this back on track, and soon.

    And I foound this news a little disturbing:

    The Bush administration is bypassing the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee and is talking directly with Democrats about re-writing the nation's surveillance laws. ""He's not really in it," Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) says of his colleague, Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO). "Bond, he's just complicating things." Bond said the White House has "assured him that it was not negotiating behind his back."

    From Think Progress.

    Jay Rockefeller in charge of this does not comfort me.

    Any Sense (none / 0) (#1)
    by The Maven on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 10:25:32 AM EST
    regarding what impact a possible adverse ruling (against the Bush Administration) by the Supreme Court in Boumediene v. Bush and Al Odah v. U.S. would have for the cases that are being rushed forward like this one?  Would it derail the prosecutions or be seen by the Administration as a mere inconvenience with no direct implications for these "trials"?  The Administration has shown a remarkable degree of finding a way to work around getting slapped down by SCOTUS on detainee cases in the past, so I almost expect them to defy the Court by claiming that any ruling here would be completely inapplicable.

    Thoughts, anyone?

    The Bush Administration (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by litigatormom on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 10:47:58 AM EST
    has consistently downplayed the "law enforcement" approach to combatting terrorism, and so it isn't that important to them the need to observe the constitutional niceties so as to permit terrorists to be tried and convicted.

    Now, I don't agree with that approach, but it's an approach, and if you really thought it was more important to focus on prevention rather than law enforcement, damn the due process and just get the bad guys before they get you, you could at least give the Bushies credit for being consistent.

    But of course, they want to have their cake and eat it too.  They want to have trials, but they don't want to do -- and in fact, it is now too late to do -- the things that would give the trials any legitimacy.  Indeed, the procedures are so tainted and illegitimate that they can't even be true "show trials."

    So, once again, we have neither effective enforcement nor effective prevention, not to mention the complete lack of moral legitimacy.  That's the Bush way: stripping the U.S. of both its security and its principles, one day at a time.


    "Downplayed" Is an Understatement (none / 0) (#10)
    by The Maven on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 11:34:01 AM EST
    Rather, they have actively mocked anything short of what what they've been doing (or trying to do, on those occasions where they've been slightly stymied) all along, which essentially has been a descent into the gutter, denying our nation of any pretense of holding the moral high ground in the so-called "war" on terrorism.

    Indeed, the Administration has chosen the worst possible combination, and these "trials" make a complete mockery of a claim that we're adhering to a regularized system of impartial justice (which, of course, is utterly different from vengeance or "victim's justice", something the American people generally too often fail to realize, though that's another matter entirely).  That's why some of the other cases not currently before the Supreme Court -- those that are dealing with matters such as the Combatant Status Review Tribunals -- are also so vitally important.

    With KSM, we have a defendant who seems inclined toward martyring himself by creating the conditions most likely to result in a quick death penalty verdict, and perversely, the Administration seems hellbent on playing right into his hands, unaware (or uncaring) of the backlash carrying it out could create.

    I've been following the Guantanamo detainee issues for quite a while now, and used to write the occasional diary about them over at the Orange place.  (In fact, my disenchantment there was mostly from a realization that an informed piece on serious issues like these would spiral away within 15 minutes virtually unseen, but the latest Drudge-style rumor about the presidential primaries would generate hundreds of comments and countless page hits.)

    It just continues to astonish me that, after all these years, the Administration would still be so willfully blind and deaf to the opinions of not only the world community, but also its own citizenry.  Contempt for international law is one thing; contempt for the most basic concepts of justice is truly beyond the pale.


    One of the strongest arguments (none / 0) (#3)
    by madamab on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 10:32:48 AM EST
    against torture is that whatever evidence you think you have obtained will simply not hold up in court. And America is too big for every justice to be corrupted - although heaven knows BushCheney have tried.

    Let's face it, they have no evidence against KSM. Kudos to the ACLU - without them, I believe we wouldn't have a shred of a Constitution left.

    Patricia Perry and Adam Arias.... (none / 0) (#4)
    by kdog on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 10:40:17 AM EST
    are A+ human beings in my book.

    If anybody could be excused for wanting to sacrifice our most sacred principals it's those folks, yet the tragedy they suffered has not wavered their belief in these principles.  

    9/11's latest heroes...I salute them.

    NPR's report of the trials and tribulations of (none / 0) (#7)
    by jawbone on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 10:50:01 AM EST
    getting these cases to trial have slowed the Bush administration down, but that it wants very much to make them fait accompli, something which the next president cannot overturn or undo.

    Can that be the case? Will BushCo be able to cast this kind of aberrant "justice" in stone?

    Oh, and possibly to bring terrah to the forefront for the election and thus perhaps aid McCain.